I’m writing this post at an altitude of 38,000 feet, as I fly more than 3,000 miles across the United States. This journey—from Boston to San Jose, California—is underway so I can attend BlogHer, an international blogging conference that will bring together thousands of bloggers and will feature keynote speakers like Arianna Huffington and Kerry Washington. It’s my second time at BlogHer (learn about my experience attending last year here), and only the second time I’ve traveled to a blogging event out of state. Since my blog is a professional—and personal—responsibility, I place this trip into the “work” travel category.
This isn’t my first business trip. I average about two to three trips a year for work (i.e., my career in nonprofit management), and have done so for years. At a previous job, years ago, I traveled much, much more, with so many trips on my calendar that I had to get extra pages for my passport. That was more than I wanted for a life filled with family, so my current two to three annual trips work out well for my life right now.
What’s fascinating to me is how much this trip to BlogHer has caused my kids stress. Typically, when I’ve traveled, they’ve been keen to Skype or FaceTime, send texts with short “I love you” videos or dance montages, and talk to me on the phone. Facing the prospect of my departure, however, this time, they both melted down.
R, my nearly seven-year-old son, held it together until I tucked him into bed last night. He started crying the minute I smoothed his outer space comforter around his growing-so-fast body. The tears started without warning, and I found myself getting under the covers to hold him close. After six minutes of snuggling (“six minutes, Mommy, not five”), I managed to distract him by eliciting his promise that he wouldn’t watch “Return of the Jedi” while I was away. While effective at stopping the upset, it did prompt The Star Wars Inquisition, otherwise known as “How many questions about Anakin Skywalker can I ask Mommy before she breaks?” (For the record, I did very well on this round.)
G, who, shockingly, will turn five next week, was a different story. She started crying at dinner, clinging to me and practically sitting on my lap while we ate. If I had suggested that we share forks, she would have been thrilled. She continued with the intermittent wailing throughout the bedtime routine, my snuggle time with R, and until I got into bed with her for (again) six minutes. (My mother always lectured me about the need for equality in parenting; now, I get it.) Despite her crocodile tears, she was a bit funny.
“I hate business trips,” she continued to wail, kicking off the covers.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I will miss youuuuuuuuuu,” drawing out the “you” for longer than normal to drive home her point. “And, I can’t fit in your suitcase!”
I’ll admit that traveling so far from my family always makes me a little uneasy. I like being with them, knowing about the details of their days, and taking care of them. Yet, a break is likely good for all of us. It teaches my kids that, while they are my heart, I do have a life independent of them that I also need to nurture.
So, we will stay connected over the next few days via text, call, Skype, and FaceTime, and they will have a great few days with their Dad (thanks, love!). I, too, expect to have an invigorating, fun, and all-around exciting few days. And, we will all be happy when I return home.